Preventable tells the extraordinary story of COVID-19 and how global politics shape our health – from a world-leading expert and the pandemic’s go-to science communicator Professor Devi Sridhar has risen to prominence for her vital roles in communicating science to the public and speaking truth to power. In Preventable she highlights lessons learned from outbreaks past and present in a narrative that traces the COVID-19 pandemic – including her personal experience as a scientist – and sets out a vision for how we can better protect ourselves from the inevitable health crises to come. In gripping and heartfelt prose, Sridhar exposes the varied realities of those affected (from the jailed doctor in Wuhan who sounded the alarm, and the bored passengers marooned on the Diamond Princess cruise ship, to the daily nightmares of exhausted healthcare workers), and puts you in the room with key decision makers at crucial moments (from over-confident heads of states and their hesitant scientific advisors, to the beleaguered leaders of global health organisations).
Sridhar vibrantly conveys the twists and turns of a plot that saw: deadlier variants emerge (contrary to the predictions of social media pundits who argued it would mutate to a milder form); the Pyrrhic victory in many countries of the false narrative of health versus the economy (those countries which controlled the virus, like Taiwan and Denmark, had a steadier recovery); countries with weak health systems like Senegal and Vietnam fare better than countries like the US and UK (which were consistently ranked as the most prepared); and the quickest development of game-changing vaccines in history (and their unfair distribution). Combining science, politics, ethics and economics, this definitive book dissects the global structures that determine our fate, and reveals the deep-seated economic and social inequalities at their heart – it will challenge, outrage and inspire.